Though predicting what type of Fantasy Hockey season elite players like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will have, may be a no-brainer, coming up with a list of what players will see a dramatic increase in their output, or enjoy a rookie season worthy of a Calder Trophy, can be more art than science. Yet sometimes finding the right sleeper pick to gamble on in the late rounds of a draft may be the difference between your team making or missing the post season. Here then is a list of the top ten sleepers to draft this Fantasy Hockey season.
Zach Bogosian (Thrashers) Defense
Bogosian, a talented former 1ST round pick, should pick up more playing time this year along with a few more power play shifts. The added playing time should translate into improved Fantasy Hockey numbers across the board. You can expect the 20 year old blueliner to post numbers in the 15 goal and 30 assists range this year, and for Zach to be a Fantasy Hockey mainstay for years to come. Look for Bogosian to get his fair share of penalty minutes along the way.
Claude Giroux (Flyers) Right Wing
Anyone who watched Giroux in the playoffs last year knows that this talented right winger has a tremendous upside. Last season Claude tallied 21 points in 23 post season games, which is not surprising for a player who once scored 51 points in 19 playoff games when playing in the QMJHL a few years ago. If he is able to pick up where he left off, then 30 goals and 40 assists are not out of the question this season. Along with that, Giroux should be able to help your Fantasy Hockey team in the power play and plus/minus categories.
Jiri Hudler (Red Wings) Center
Coming back to the NHL after spending last season with the Moscow Dynamo, Hudler should fly under the radar in most Fantasy Hockey drafts, which should make the 26 year old center an excellent sleeper pick this season. A top six forward capable of collecting 60-65 points this season, Hudler has contributed greatly to the Red Wing’s power play in past seasons. If he slips through the top half of your draft, taking Hudler in the second half should be a no-brainer.
Taylor Hall (Oilers) Center
The top pick in the NHL Entry Draft last season, Hall is a tremendously talented rookie with a flair for scoring. Last season he tied for the league lead in scoring in the OHL with 106 points in 57 regular season games before adding 35 more in 19 playoff games. Hall might get off to a slow start his rookie year, but he should come around towards the latter half of the season. In the end a +50 point season should easily be within his grasp this year. Go ahead and roll the die on this Edmonton rookie, especially in a keeper league.
David Booth (Panthers) Left Wing
Injuries wrecked Booth’s 2009-10 season, leaving the 25 year old to suit up for only 28 games last season. If he is able to remain healthy this season, Booth should be able to pick up where he left off in 2008-09. In other words, you can look for numbers in the 30 goals and 30 assists range this season. Booth should also be able to add to your power play numbers while help your plus/minus rating.
Zach Boychuk (Hurricanes) Left Wing
This season Zach Boychuk should begin to show the kind of talent that made him a first round draft pick in 2008. Though he scored only 9 points in 31 games for Carolina last season, Zach still managed to finish with a +1 plus/minus rating. This season the left winger should begin to make some noise on offense, and a +50 point season should be obtainable. Look for him to surpass those totals next year.
Derek Brassard (Blue Jackets) Center
Brassard is poised for a breakout season this year. Sure, playing in Columbus won’t help, and his plus/minus rating will probably be in the negative this season, but Brassard should easily be able to improve on the numbers he posted last season. Look for Derek to regain the scoring touch he was beginning to show two years ago before an injury put an end to his rookie season. Expect numbers in the 20 goals and 40 assists range this year, and forget the fact that he plays for the perpetually under achieving Blue Jackets.
Nikita Filatov (Blue Jackets) Left Wing
Another young Blue Jacket with a ton of scoring potential. Given that the 20 year old has only averaged 8 minutes per game in his brief NHL career, his 6 goals over that span of time is impressive. Filatov is a real Fantasy Hockey dark horse, but if you willing to gamble on the young Russian winger, he may reward your Fantasy Hockey team with 20-25 goals this season. Even if you don’t draft him this year, Filatov is definitely a player to keep your eye on for next season.
Evander Kane (Thrashers) Left Wing
Evander Kane got off to a good start in 2009-10 collecting 8 of his 14 goals in his first 22 games of the season. With his rookie season now out of the way, the 19 year old winger can begin to steadily increase his offensive production. It is not a stretch to expect 25-30 goals this year from the physically gifted power forward.
Tyler Seguin (Bruins) Center
The second overall pick in last year’s NHL Draft, Seguin has the tools to be an elite player for years to come. Only 18 years old, Tyler’s most productive years are still ahead of him, but for right now the talented center should deliver a season in the +45 point range. If you play are playing in a keeper league, drafting Seguin should not be a considered a gamble.
“The Hockey News Magazine: Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide,” (Oct. 2010), Transcontinental Media G. P.